Calvary Classical School

Recipe for Sweet Summer Writing

sweetI’m obsessed with watching “The Great British Bake Off”—a BBC production featuring home bakers in friendly competition.  Over the course of ten shows, they test their skills at making cakes, breads, pastries, and a host of dazzling desserts. I love their amiable camaraderie. I love the baking challenges. I love the mouth-watering results! Most of all, I appreciate how judge Mary Berry offers warm and encouraging remarks along the way.

Recognizing that home bakers may not have the time, equipment, or expertise of professionals, Mary provides practical tips for success at home. In her master class segments, she regularly expounds the all-in-one method for making cakes. While many recipes require ingredients to be added in a certain order, her all-in-one mixing method for the classic Victoria sandwich (cake with jam and cream) is simple and delicious. Everything goes in together. Anyone can succeed!

Everything goes in together as students follow a recipe (checklist) to make sure all ingredients are included.

Listening to Mary Berry one day, I realized that our writing program at Calvary Classical School is also an all-in-one method. Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) combines the ingredients of grammar, spelling, listening, speaking, reading, writing, and critical thinking with any content area in the curriculum that the teacher chooses. Everything goes in together. Students follow a recipe (checklist) to make sure all ingredients are included, and then they get to work on measuring and mixing content, structure, and style. As with baking, practice makes perfect. They follow the recipe each time they write—strengthening their structure, perfecting their style, and tweaking the ingredients. In the end, they serve up delicious writing samples.

After each episode of GBBO, I immediately want to go to the kitchen and bake the technical challenge. That’s the whole point—to inspire home bakers. I feel the same way about IEW; it gives students the tools they need. They can use the recipe for successful writing: make a key-word outline from a source text, add dress ups (quality adjectives, strong verbs, adverbial clauses, etc.), and mix in various sentence openers and sentence length. Top it with a clincher. Voilà—writing ready to be read!

We give students numerous opportunities to use their IEW skills during the school year. And they’ll have more occasions during our two writing camps led by Amanda Barnett in July. But they don’t need to wait for a class to write. Encourage your children to note key words about their summer adventures. Ask them to use their dress-up, sentence opener, and topic/clincher skills. See what sweet writing they can serve you this summer!

Post written by Linda Sawanowich, K5 teacher and director of instruction at Calvary Classical School in Hampton , Virginia

Meaningful Memories


CCS 2016-2017 Faculty and Staff

Recently, teachers reflected on significant events from the school year which has just ended at Calvary Classical School. What came to their minds? How did their students grow? What teachable moments will they remember forever? Here are some of their responses.

One teacher commented on a student’s grasp of the phonograms and how the child extended that knowledge to reading and spelling new words on her own. It is a teacher’s joy to see the gift of reading come alive for students, and we have excellent tools in our curriculum toolbox to assist in the process.

Another teacher of young grammar students noted that several parents came to her delighted that their children were reading the Bible unaided. That is our primary goal in reading—to read the words of the Author of words, the Logos.


Mrs. Rogers enjoys a Feast of Booths meal with the seventh grade.

Speaking of words, a new teacher noticed how much figurative language is found in literature and the Bible. She oversaw numerous conversations about language and meaning, equipping her students for greater critical thinking in the logic stage.

A veteran teacher related one of her favorite moments which is repeated yearly.  Before Easter, the class reads The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman, a memorable prince and pauper novel. Each year, without her prompting, the students grasp parallels to Christ and begin to discuss. The teacher just hangs on for the ride! Sure, it’s a great story about friendship and trust, but it wouldn’t be possible without The Greatest Story Ever Told, and they get it.

One teacher relayed how her students’ journal entries allowed her the opportunity to pray for them specifically and provide Biblical counsel, while two others recalled conversations that opened the door for sharing the gospel. Finally, a logic-stage teacher observed that her students grew in evaluating history with a Biblical worldview, looking at the past and making applications to their own lives.


Morning car line greetings

It was a year of lunches and laughter; tests and tears; grades and, sadly, a number of final good byes. But in the end, teachers will remember what was most important—opportunities to share Christ abounded in our day and in our curriculum. Thank you, CCS teachers, for making those meaningful memories possible. And thank you to our retiring principal, Mrs. Lori Rogers, for leading us faithfully toward this goal each year.

Post written by Linda Sawanowich, K5 teacher and director of instruction at Calvary Classical School

Shaping Minds, One Memory Passage at a Time

Memorization plays a significant role in Classical Christian Education. As a former public school teacher, learning how memory is taught, encouraged, and required in Classical Education seemed an odd concept. However, it did not take long for me to see the value of memorization and get on board – both for my students and myself. I see the fruit of the laboring to memorize as much as possible alongside my students.

Intellectual Takeout, a self-proclaimed “refuge of national discourse,” recently posted an article called “Children Have Amazing Powers of Memorization… So Why Aren’t Schools Using Them?” This secular site has zeroed in on what Classical Education has known for centuries!

I want to continue shaping in my students a love of God’s Word and a passion for memorizing what is good, true, and beautiful.

Around the same time, I had my students respond to an article from Desiring God entitled “Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible.” If you’re on the fence about the importance of memorization for children, perhaps my students’ brief responses to this article can sway you:

“Scripture can help you in everyday life. … It’s important to focus on God and not the world so much. Of course, it is important to be concerned about the world, but God’s Word is more important.”

“…memorizing the Bible will not be easy, but is doable.”

“… God is protecting us and wants us to read and memorize His Word.”

“I learned that you can face your fear. Also, that God has your back.”

“… the more you memorize God’s Word, the more comforting it is and the more familiar it will be to you.”

“… you should memorize big chunks of the Bible because it is important to know and love Scripture.”

“I need to take more time to read and memorize the Bible.”

These are the attitudes I want to continue shaping in my students: a love of God’s Word and a passion for memorizing what is good, true, and beautiful, whether poetry, timelines, songs, nursery rhymes, or Scripture.

Post by Sara Winant, Calvary Classical School’s sixth-grade teacher.

School’s Out

school's outIn this last week, we turn our eyes to survey the road behind us. Another school year is coming to completion: tests taken, math formulas mastered, and mountains of memory work conquered!

Students (and teachers) breathe a sigh of relief as classroom tasks come to a screeching halt. The days of assignments and due dates will shortly be replaced with beach gear and play dates as students welcome summer days with open arms.

Tomorrow, at the awards assembly, we mark the end of this year’s work with praise and pats on the back. We applaud perfect attendance and recognize exemplary character. Certificates and handshakes acknowledge various levels of academic achievement.

But there are multitudes of unseen accomplishments which cannot be met with public applause. The personal victory of overcoming reading obstacles or wrestling and finally triumphing over elusive math concepts. The denial of self by letting a classmate go first. The smothering of an impulse to say something negative because we remembered what God said about loving our neighbor.

There are multitudes of unseen accomplishments which cannot be met with public applause.

But, Someone has seen all of this because the Bible tells us nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. So, on this day, we know that whether recognized in the public eye or attained in secret, each success shares this common thread: each was achieved with the gifts God has given. We remember “…we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Our good work is the handiwork of the One who gives all men life and breath. This day we proclaim with the Psalmist, “The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad” (Psalm 126:3).

This post was written by Joy McMinn, administrative assistant and blog writer at CCS. She has three children enrolled at Calvary Classical School.

Pearl of a School

pearlIn the world of internet sales, there is nothing quite as disappointing as buying a product online only to find, after days of waiting for its arrival on your doorstep, that it’s not what you expected. When our family moved to the Hampton Roads area six years ago, my husband and I were presented with the feat of finding a school (and a house!) in just two short days. The task seemed daunting, so I took to the internet, scouring every corner for possible leads and setting up school tours.  But, as is often the case with the internet, what you see is not always what you get.

I had put countless hours into hunting for a great school for our upcoming kindergartner, but all my planning was to no avail. Our school visits did not measure up to what we were hoping to find. Thankfully, my fruitless search was setting me up to experience the beauty of the scriptural truth that God appoints the times and places in which we are to dwell.

“We knew this was our school.”

After all my futile efforts to craft a plan for the future, God orchestrated a seemingly insignificant conversation with some new found friends who recommended Calvary with great excitement and fervor.  With only one day remaining in our visit, we wasted no time in calling CCS.  From the moment we arrived, we knew this was our school.

With the simple recommendation of friends, we discovered the priceless pearl that is Calvary Classical School. Six years and three enrolled students later, we are still confident in our choice to enroll our children at CCS.   In fact, year after year, we are amazed at the opportunity that God has given us to be part of this school community where we see hearts overflowing with devotion to students, redemption infused discipline, tireless commitment to quality, and dedication to integrating Biblical truth into everyday moments.

If you are looking for a fantastic school, look no further! If you are blessed to be part of the CCS family, spread the word about our school!  It could likely be the priceless pearl that someone else is seeking!

This post by Joy McMinn, our administrative assistant and mom to three CCS students.